Saturday, January 29, 2005


Unless you are opposing abortion, of course

It sometimes pays incredibly well to be a protester in the city, as seven complainants discovered this week after the D.C. government agreed to ease their long-term distress with $425,000. The settlement goes back to demonstrations waged against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on Sept. 27, 2002, when D.C. police made mass arrests at Pershing Park, east of the White House. The settlement also calls for police Chief Charles H. Ramsey to write letters of apology to each of the seven. The pact, fortunately, stops short of requiring Mayor Anthony A. Williams to hold a ticker-tape parade in their honor.

It is, of course, almost an American pathology to be heard in a public forum, no matter the obscurity of the cause or absence of logic. Many of the protesters who descend on the nation's capital like the plague are a motley crew of anarchists, conspiracy theorists, peace activists, socialists, left-wing extremists, environmentalists and garden-variety loonies with nothing better to do than shout and be noticed. They take up good taxpayer money and the precious time of overworked law-enforcement agencies in order to get the word out about their life-changing political views.

They do so without regard to cost and a city's quality of life. They do so without consideration for the law-enforcement agencies, whose overtime duty has skyrocketed since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Their need to be heard is all-powerful, their level of self-absorption matched only by their egos. These demonstrations sometimes turn nasty and destructive, as those emboldened by the protective cover of a crowd are apt to exceed the peaceful intentions of others.

The police, there to protect life, liberty and property, mostly have a thankless mission. The line between the First Amendment rights of the protesters and the property and safety rights of the innocent can be awfully gray. In this instance, police crossed the line, and the aggrieved seven, among the masses arrested and detained that day, have the healing power of $425,000, courtesy of the legal work of the American Civil Liberties Union. The real loser in this settlement is not the D.C. government. It is the average resident who lives in this increasingly cordoned-off city, who is inconvenienced by these events and then handed the bill. The bill is liable to grow, with three other ACLU lawsuits still pending

More here

Fast food obesity lawsuit threatens consumers, rule of law: "Yesterday's reinstatement of the obesity liability lawsuit against McDonald's resurrects another trial lawyer campaign that undermines personal responsibility and jeopardizes consumer choice, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute. 'If obesity lawsuits succeed, they will turn all Americans into 'victims,' incapable of bearing responsibility for personal choices,' said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. 'Such lawsuits may benefit trial lawyers, but they'll hurt consumers on limited budgets who will be forced to pay higher food prices,' said Kazman."

Dat grand ole double standard again: "Earlier this month, Harvard University president Lawrence Summers suggested that male-female differences in math and science achievement might have biological causes. Angry professors in his audience walked out, alumni threatened to withhold donations, and Summers was forced to issue several solemn apologies. So let's suppose that he had proposed a biological basis for sexual orientation, not for math and science ability. Would anyone have objected? Of course not. ... Most professors -- myself included -- are zealous proponents of equal rights for homosexuals. Some Christian conservatives claim that gays can be converted into straights through a combination of religion and therapy. So good-hearted academics often embrace the possibility of a so-called gay gene, if only to rebut this right-wing attack. When it comes to gender, however, biological explanations are taboo among my academic colleagues."

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